Wednesday, 16 June 2010


I want a dog. Ideally, I would like a Tibetan Spaniel because my best buddy has one and I think I understand them. But B.A. thinks Tibetan Spaniels are girly, so we are getting a terrier instead. Since pure-bred animals seem to be the norm around here, we looked up prices.

"Four hundred POUNDS!" we shrieked.

"We could get a terrier from a Rescue," I said.

"No, we can't," said B.A. "Those dogs often have serious problems, and we can't have a dog with problems here in the Historical House."

I had a hideous vision of a mad terrier gnawing on 18th century chairs and peeing on the silk Chinese Wallpaper and agreed.

How judgmental.

Occasionally I get emails informing me that I am judgmental. I know this already, but thank you very much. I am glad to be judgmental because I am a Lonerganian, and Lonerganians observe that there are three stages in knowing anything: Experience, Understanding and Judging. After Judging comes Deciding because knowing leads to doing in the Lonerganian scheme of things.

Experience is the raw materials of the world coming at you without you reflecting on them. For example, if you are dozing in the sun and you are dimly aware of sun but you have not put together the thought SUN yet, you are merely on the level of experience.

Understanding (or "insight") comes about as the answer to "What is it?" Hypotheses come bounding into your brain. Sometimes they are wrong. For example, sometimes I wake up unsure of where I am. Then I rightly or wrongly hypothesize that I am at home in the Historical House.

Judgement comes as the answer to "Is it so?" For example, there I am, slowly moving out of the pure, unreflective experience of lying in bed in a sunbeam. "What is it" flashes into my mind, proving that I have moved to the understanding stage. "My bed in the Historical House" I hypothesize. But then my hand touches a wall, and I wonder "Wait, is that so?" And, because I don't have a wall by my bed in Historical House, I think "No." So I make a new hypothesis, which is that I am in bed in my old room in Toronto, and I ask again "Is it so?" I open my eyes and lo, it is so.

Now at this point my critics will have skipped ahead of this philosophical stuff, complaining that's not what they mean when they say that I am judgmental. In fact, they might even argue, if feeling particularly bright, that I am not judgmental at all, by my terms, as I seem to skip right from Understanding to Decision. For that, I think, is what they mean. I do not wait until all the facts are in before saying "Learn, dear Singles, from the story of X. X is a Bad Role Model."

Most recently, I was criticiqued for my discussion of a young lady who, by her own admission, at the age of eleven got drunk at a party, had consensual sex and later found herself pregnant. However, it turns out that the girl lied about this. Apparently she was not made pregnant by the boy at the "booze-filled romp", but by her older brother, with whom she had been in a coersive incestuous relationship for years.

The reader who sent along this information said that perhaps I shouldn't have "blindly judged" this situation before all the facts were in. I don't know how I was supposed to guess that the girl in question had been lying about when she got pregnant, or that she was being abused by her brother. I could judge her only on her word. But at any rate, this incest revelation only proves the point of my post, which was never that the girl was "bad", but that horrible private behaviour has horrible consequences for society.

Incidentally, the 15 year old boy this girl, lying, named as the father of her child was tried for statutory rape. (He convinced the judge that he thought the girl was 14 and got three years' probation.)

But, thanks to my reader, I have more facts before me to help me judge if this girl is a fit influence for her four year old child. And I still say no. I am sorry that she has suffered all that she has suffered; it is truly terrible. But not only has she told (or sold) her baby's story to the tabloids, she has told (or sold) an even ghastlier one because she didn't like how the first story made her look. But now the public knows (thanks to the birth mother and the tabs) that the four year old's uncle is her father, and if the public ever figures out the four year old's name, God only knows what humiliations she will undergo. Thanks, Mum.

I agree that, given her terrible childhood, which we can blame on her brother, whose barrister used the brother's own terrible childhood in his defence, and on her parents, who possibly had terrible childhoods themselves, it might be a bit much to expect this young woman to have good judgement. However, someone with terrible judgement should not be trusted around a four year old child.

Meanwhile, I will continue to say nasty things about men who pressure women into having abortions, men who pressure women into having sex and men who commit mass murder. If that makes me "judgmental", blessed are the judgmental, for rootness in reality shall be ours.

Update: I probably should underscore that this terrible story caught my interest because I live near neighbourhoods that share symptoms of decline with this girl's childhood home. This is a Scottish story about poor people in Scotland, and I live among poor people in Scotland. I am moved by their sufferings and disturbed by cycles of abuse, degradation and poverty.

One possible factor for the continuing misery is that children do not know that it is wrong for children to have sex, either with adults or with other children. They do not know that it is wrong for children to consume alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and cannabis. They do not know it is wrong for people to conceive children out of wedlock. Possibly they do not know because those who are supposed to tell them fear accusations of being judgmental. But judgmental is what we have to be on behalf of those who have no judgement.


theobromophile said...

But judgmental is what we have to be on behalf of those who have no judgement.

I love that!

One possible factor for the continuing misery is that children do not know that it is wrong for children to have sex, either with adults or with other children.

I think that children have a lot of inherent modesty; the problem is that adults can do their best to strip them of that. Being judgemental about children having sex (or other things) does the double good of helping children to avoid things that are harmful to them and reinforcing their intuition.

The downside to a lack of judgement is that we quickly get to the situation in which there is no reason to not be having sex, boozing, or drugging. As you once said, Seraphic Singles shows Catholics that they aren't alone and atheists that they aren't crazy. I add: it's easy to feel crazy when what society tells you does not line up with your experience and your instincts.

theobromophile said...

Oh, on a side note, Seraphic: if you mis-type your blog address (, you'll come to a different site. Not sure what you want to do about that, but I thought you should know.

Seraphic said...

Oh, how funny! Well, at least its Christian, right?

Seraphic said...

Er, it's.

Christine Pennacchio said...

Good points Seraphic and bromophile... teaching children that some things are just wrong doesn't just keep them from doing it, it helps them to develop their own moral compass.

Alisha said...

I love it when people get very emphatic and tell others they shouldn't be judgmental. The irony would be hilarious if it weren't so annoying. Being able to make a judgment means one is intelligent. An inability to do so denotes a sort of moral malaise or paralysis. Someone who cannot judge will never be able to effectively oppose something harmful on a grand scale, if they cannot do so in small matters.
I prefer to tell others we should not condemn others or presume to know the state of their souls, esp since we have so much to correct in our own. But please, keep judging. I'm sure you could trace most unproductive and harmful behaviour to poor judgment somewhere along the line, and that most success comes from not sitting on the fence, but correctly judging a situation.

Anonymous said...

Judgmental is good. Apathy disguised as tolerance is responsible for more problems than being judgmental.

OK, back to the dogs. Have you decided upon a Terrier, or have you considered a Bernese Mountain Dog? They are big but docile, well behaved, and elegant. They are also herders by nature, so could probably be encouraged to nudge dinner guests to the door when the party is over.

Fresh in my mind because there was an ad for a lost one on my vet's bulletin board today. I almost went looking for it until they said it was microchipped. Now I have to go to Confession for intending to steal the dog.

Isabella of the North

Seraphic said...

The thing about the dog is that B.A.'s job is (partly) to protect, conserve, and teach about the 17th/18th century house we currently live in. Everything below our flat is called "the collection", and every last bit of "the collection" is irreplaceable, including a jar of pickles from the 1950s. (A truly disgusting object that is not on display.) Therefore, any dog we have has to:

1. be trained by us from a puppy not to go downstairs without permission

2. be happy in our flat

3. obey us at once

4. enjoy walks in the grounds

5. not shed terribly much

Also, B.A. can't stand white dogs when they are muddy. If he could, we would be getting a Westie, the local favourite.

Seraphic said...

Incidentally, I have received a spirited protest from a Tibetan Spaniel owner, who is shocked that B.A. thinks Tibbies are "girly".

I agree that Tibbies are not "girly" dogs and are indeed the "lion dogs" they are called. I myself am a tremendous fan of the breed; I think they are delightful.